The San Francisco teams only had 2 days to create a solution and 3 minutes to present. It was a high-stakes, high-pressure event. If known the challenges it was entered for are in parentheses. AT&T, Aetna, Healthline, Food Essentials and athenhealth all offered separate challenges and prizes for this codeathon.
DIG*IT Mobile (AT&T): This app tried to use the “desire engine” concept to develop a medication adherence app specifically for patients with HIV. The app includes a news feed, a way to compare yourself to other people like you, easy contact buttons for providers and a quick health summary. Patients can see a graph of their lab values and their medication compliance, as well as a graph for adherence. Each day the app asks if a patient has taken their medication, as well as providing alerts that tell them to take their meds. The med component showed their pills and when their prescriptions are due. They plan to incorporate crowd-sourcing information later.
DocSays (Aetna & Healthline): This team took on the challenge of improving hospital discharge outcomes. Patients are overloaded with information at the time of discharge. Their app, titled Doc Says, gives them automatic reminders about everything from activity levels, foods, medication to reminders for appointments. It can also work on an SMS system, so it doesn’t have to be smart-phone based. Options on the screen include defining all doctors instructions as tasks. The steps are broken down so that “pick up your lisinopril” is a separate task from the more generic “take your medicine.”
Exhale (Aetna, AT&T, athenahealth, Healthline): Exhale is an app to promote mindful breathing. Mindful breathing is something this designer became involved with due to his experience with free-diving. “Exhalation is relaxation,” is the motto. The app employs the main button on the iPhone for indicating the users’ length of their breath. After being used, the app summarizes the details about your mini-meditation through breathing. The data is uploaded to mHealth and plotted.
Frood (Aetna, Food Essentials): “Frood is an easily delicious way to track your food.” There are over 175 apps already to track food in the App Store (Apple only), but most of them are difficult because the data entry is time-consuming and slow. Frood is designed to create lists, and make those lists really, really simple. It uses information from location data, purchases and loyalty cards, and previous entries. Then you can just touch to choose options. Barcode scanning allows people to enter food they are eating. After it is entered, you can use a sliding swipe scale to enter how much of different categories of food you’ve eaten. Voice input and photos are also possible.
Good Mood Food (Aetna, Food Essentials): This team’s presentation started when one team member told the other to “eat right and exercise.” That is the sum total that many people feel they get from their providers when it comes to food, exercise and health. They took the approach that personal motivators are much more profound. The goal is to link desired emotions and moods to food. There are mood profiles that a person can choose as their goals. After those goals are entered, the app then asks you to rate your mood. Every time you put a rating it, it gives you information, and if you need a “boost” you can get tips about your goals. It is personal and it learns over time, according to the developers.
Gut Guru (Aetna, Athenahealth, Food Essentials): One of this team’s members was celebrating her birthday by diving into a brutal 48 hour codeathon – now that’s commitment to health! Gut Guru is an app for irritable bowel syndrome, which affects 20% of the U.S. population, and has high costs. Current therapies are largely inefficient. Data shows that many patients will improve if 4 different types of food are eliminated. These are gluten, lactose, fat and other. Gut Guru lets you sign up, create a food diary and track your symptoms. The app can use a bar scan, and the patient can record symptoms. The app then analyzes the data and presents it in a format that the patient and doctor can use.
HealthPlay (Aetna): This project uses an app to encourage the cultivation of healthy habits through social gamification and games. FoodRate, FoodMash and FoodQuiz are categories that are used to set up the games for the users. Users win points and a bar scanner lets users enter food. FoodMash lets you choose which food has more calories, as another example. At the end you get to see your total points and participate in a two-player game.
Water App (Aetna, AT&T): This team’s approach to behavior change was to address simplicity and desire. They chose dehydration as their topic. According to the Mayo Clinic, up to 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, and that many of them are mistaking those symptoms for hunger. Their app allows users to track what they drink, and the purity of it. Community is included by inviting people to go to the “water cooler.” As behavior changes, you get points and are invited to move onto more complex challenges like food tracking. It links to mHealth so that information can be uploaded. Tips are also presented at the time of data entry.
SmartHealth (Aetna, Athenahealth, Healthline): Smart Health is an app that empowers users to make healthy choices by three steps – first, to inspire them, then articles are presented to the user to give them tips. Users can search for topics using Healthline. Users are then linked to community through existing portals that are encouraging good health. It is a combination of inspiration, information and community.
I Just Ate (Aetna): This team set out to lower the bar to allow people to track what they eat, even if they don’t have a smartphone. Users can text their app and it allows them to sign in immediately. They can then text what they just ate, even just an Oreo. Users can then set reminder times to enter what you’ve just eaten. There is a health-o-meter, based on what you’ve eaten. Users can also ask about how healthy foods are, before eating them. And, if you text a food eaten to the site “such as an Oreo”, it can send a reminder back specific to that food like “remember the milk.”
Sponsored prizes were presented first. Aetna’s second place prize for best use of their API went to ‘I Just Ate’ and the first prize went to ‘Doc Says.’ Healthline’s prize went to ‘Smart Health.’ Food Essentials second place prize went to ‘Frood’ and first place went to ‘Good Mood Food.’ AT&T’s challenge winner was ‘Dig-It.’ Athenahealth’s runner-up prize went to ‘Exhale,’ and first place went to ‘Gut Guru.’ The Best In Show prizes went to four runner-ups – ‘Doc Says,’ ‘I Just Ate,’ ‘Dig-It,’ and ‘HealthPlay.’ Overall third place prize went to ‘Water.’ Second place prize went to ‘Good Mood Food.’ And first prize went to ‘Gut Guru.’
Jan Gurley is an internist physician who works with the San Francisco Department of Public Health. She blogs at Doc Gurley: Posts from an Insane Healthcare System.